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Phenibut Uses and Warnings

Phenibut is a nootropic , or “smart drug,” that’s commonly used by those who want to relieve stress or anxiety. Its use is controversial primarily due to the fact that there’s limited human research available and it tends to have an addictive potential. 1 However, these risks have not stopped neurohackers around the world from giving this possible brain-boosting and stress-fighting drug a try.

Phenibut is a chemical that was first synthesized in the Soviet Union in the 1960s where, to this day, it’s prescribed for relieving stress and anxiety symptoms and promoting restful sleep.

While low or intermittent doses of phenibut appear to be well-tolerated, large doses or continued supplementation pose some real health risks, which are important to be aware of. If you’re considering adding phenibut to your nootropic stack, it’s important to do your research to understand how it works and how to safely take it.


What Is Phenibut and How Does it Work?

Phenibut is a derivative of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter produced endogenously in the human brain. As an inhibitory chemical, GABA blocks nerve impulses, helping induce calmness and relieves feelings of anxiety. 2

Unlike the traditional supplement GABA, which researchers believe is unable to sufficiently cross the blood-brain barrier, the chemical structure of phenibut may allow it to more easily cross over this protective barrier and into the brain. 3

Phenibut is thought to exhibit much of its effects on human mood and cognition through its interactions with GABA receptors. 4 It also has an effect on benzodiazepine and dopamine receptors.

Nootropic Benefits

Individuals use this synthetic chemical primarily for stress relief; however, some also use it as a recreational drug for its sedative effects or, to a lesser extent, for its cognitive-enhancing effects.


Reduces Stress

Animal studies have found that phenibut decreases fear and aggressive behavior in passive or anxious animals, enhances positive emotional symptoms in healthy animals, and improves performance when it comes to escaping stressful situations. Nevertheless, it was not found to reduce aggressive behavior in aggressive animals.

Clinically, phenibut is used to relieve tension, anxiety, and fear. 5 Although, there are no human studies available outside of Russia that examine the effects of phenibut on mood or anxiety responses.

Yet user reviews on sites like LongCity and Reddit compare using phenibut at high doses to Xanax, alcohol, or benzodiazepines. From these and many other accounts, it’s clear that one must proceed with caution when using phenibut. The exact effects have not been studied on humans and user reviews suggest that it can be an extremely strong substance.

man and woman solving things

Enhances Cognition

Phenibut may have a positive impact on brain health and cognitive function. Animal studies have found phenibut to help protect the brain from damage, reduce amnesic effects, and boost learning and memory potential. 6

One study showed the ability of phenibut to enhance neuronal responses, which serves to prove the ability of phenibut to increase learning ability and improves memory processes. Additionally, phenibut may offer protection from memory-related disorders. 7

Just as with phenibut and stress, these studies have not been conducted on humans, leaving researchers without definite answers to the question of how exactly phenibut affects the brain and memory.

Side Effects and Drug Interactions

Phenibut is known to cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms, so if you choose to take this nootropic, it’s important to take low doses and not take it daily. 8 Withdrawal symptoms can include:

    • Dizziness

    • Mood troubles

    • Muscle tension

    • Difficulties sleeping

    • Increased sensations of pain

    • Tremors

    • Cognitive difficulties

Taking high doses can lead to:

    • Feelings of intoxication

    • Motor difficulties

    • Heart palpitations

In order to avoid these symptoms, pay careful attention to how much you take and how often you take it. If you do find yourself suffering from phenibut addiction, gradual tapering tends to be the best option to slowly reduce your dependence.

Additionally, little is known about phenibut drug interactions, but it appears to be unwise to take it with any other drug or substance that is a depressant, such as alcohol or prescription medications like Xanax.

pouring medicine on spoon

Phenibut Dosage Guidelines

As it stands, there is no recommended dosage for phenibut. 9 Fortunately, there are many user reviews scattered across the internet where people share their personal experiences. Before taking phenibut, you may want to read over some personal accounts to see how much to take and what to expect when you do.

The lowest dosage that people report is around 250 mg/day, so this may be a good place to start and to gradually increase your dosage until you find what works for you. Most users do not report much of an effect until closer to 500 to 1,000 mg/day. This drug is water soluble, so you can take it without food.

Remember not to take this drug daily or you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop.


Phenibut is a widely-used nootropic with possible stress-relieving properties. Unfortunately, there are no published human studies outside of Russia on its effects, leaving dosage and safety guidelines unknown. Because of this, if you do try this nootropic, it’s important to be cautious: start with low doses and don’t take it daily.

Photo credits: molekuul_be/, vmaslova/, REDPIXEL.PL/, AfricaStudio/, VolodymyrKrasyuk/

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